A story that will touch your heart !

 It struck me today about how the human psyche works sometimes – especially mine………. 

In March 2009 my closest friend in Melbourne, a single Mum, gave birth to her first baby at the age of 42.  The baby (Luca) was delivered at 24 weeks. If you look closely at this picture, you can see the reality of the journey that a 24 week old baby was to face.  Check out the size of his hand on his Mum’s finger.  Luca was not expected to live past 25 weeks so everyone prepared for the finality of this little man’s life.  The priest was brought in, the family visited and said their farewells and the emotional support crew gathered round and feigned their strength in front of his mum.  It was a sickening feeling.  Usually I find a reason in any situation to laugh, but in this situation I honestly found no reason at all to be able to conjure up a smile let alone a laugh.  Whilst this was all happening, the new born across from Luca passed away in her humidicrib.  Suddenly there was an empty crib, no baby, no parents, no round the clock nurse- just a memory.   I felt a sort of guilt having my reasonably healthy 3 year old coming to visit in an environment that teetered on life or death at any second of each 24 hour cycle.  The days went on and with each day there was a new challenge, a new infection, a new blockage, a new operation to be had and so many tears.  The one positive thing was that it was 2 steps forward for every 1 step back.  Luca reached such milestones that you and I would not even think of; he reached 1 kilo; he did 1 poo; he took 1 ml of milk; he reached 100 days; it was a series of amazing accomplishments entwined with a bunch of devastating downfalls but, Luca kept on going.   Luca’s Mum was in the hospital every day for at least 15 hours, she often stayed overnight just to be there.  That ‘normal life’ stopped for Luca’s mum for 3 long months.  Eventually in June 2009 as he was about to hit 3kilos, Luca was able to leave the hospital and go home with oxygen in tow.  There was a positive future ahead.  

Luca is now a happy, gurgling, farting, belching, vomiting, pooeing, weeing, screaming and simply gorgeous baby with only minor disabilities such as deafness and respiratory problems.  I say minor, because hey, he really could have simply been an angel in our lives.  

This is where my own human psyche amazes me.  From that very first time I saw Luca in his frail body, I knew that if I could play any role in helping sick kids, then my hand would be raised with no questions asked. If there was an opportunity, I would grab it.   

At White Now headquarters, we are busy, working away on the next stages of the Read & Recover Program.  With the ante being upped By Brad Sugars from 150 books to 1500 the work had to be upped as well.  We are actually donating 1600 books to 100 hospitals now !  During the week, we were honoured to have a large club approach us wanting to assist in this year’s book donation initiative.  We are now in discussion with them to see how they can best assist.  Our Graphic Designer, who is 4 months pregnant, donated all the design work needed for the program.  We also have had so many people contact us either through our Facebook pages, or this blog offering their help!  Why do they contact us ?  They simply just want to help. 

 I think that there is something truly humbling about being able to help others but, as a parent, there is something so phenomenal about helping kids – especially those who are have any sort of illness.  

My heart goes out to all of those parents who have sick children or children with any challenge. It is said that having a child is to decide to forever have your heart go walking around outside your body.  Imagine if that heart were challenged with illnesses continually.

It’s All About the Coffee

I’m sharing this experience with you for what it was worth to me personally !  The experience was pretty

Smell the Coffee

 normal in many ways, but the process of blogging it was where the benefit arose.  You see by thinking about what to write and then drafting the story below, it has forced me to revisit our business to make sure that we are “making good coffee”.  Read on and hopefully it will all make sense………….

My three year old was due back to Daycare this week, so my wife and I promised him a brekky outing on the weekend as he had been “requesting” pancakes on an almost daily basis of late…………there are afterall priorities in a little boy’s life and pancakes just so happens to be one of them !  🙂

We set-off to a well-known Pancake House in town and my wife and I ordered a cup of coffee each.  Now whilst I have been criticised by friends for being a bit of a coffee snob (I refuse to drink instant), having spent years in hospitality I am partial to a good cuppa.  And so, I waited patiently for my coffee to appear and when it did I just knew it wasn’t going to be a good experience.  Firstly, I had ordered a mug only to be delivered a cup.   There was this tiny bit of tatty floating white stuff amongst what looked like very dirty dishwater and smelt like burnt coffee.  Lifting the cup to my lips, I could feel the heat of the beverage and was prepared for the fact that I was going to blister my tongue and unfortunately I was right, the milk had been burnt so the coffee was dangerously hot !

It’s funny because the rest of the meal was quite passable – nothing fantastic, but certainly nothing terrible either.  The service was satisfactory through the meal process and became good at the end when we were asked if everything was to our liking and I commented that the coffees were not at all good and explained very politely why.  The waiter apologised and whisked the full cups away asking if we would like another, which we declined.  He then came back to our table and informed us that he had removed the items from our bill, which I thanked him for and we went to pay the bill.

In the car on the way home my wife and I commented to each other that we would likely not rush back in main due to the coffee, which got me to thinking about the number of establishments that I visit where the coffee is poor and how I usually make a mental note not to go back unless something else about the visit is particularly special.  What it means is that everything/everyone else has to work that much harder to win my custom as they couldn’t get the little thing (making the coffee) right in the first place.

Am I being a bit harsh ?

Possibly !  But I don’t think that I would be alone in thinking this way.  I am not for a moment suggesting that I cannot be won over simply because of a bad cup of coffee.  There are certainly places that we frequent where the coffee is only just passable, but everything else is brilliant !  But it is JUST THAT point that I am making……..everything else has to be way above par, when in reality all they needed to do was get the small stuff right. 

We are spoilt for choice here in Australia and in general we are well informed about the way food & beverages should be served, not to mention how a venue should present; the cleanliness of toilets and food facilties and a myriad of other “small” things that add up in the “big scheme” of things !!!  So, metaphorically speaking it made me think about the “quality of OUR coffee” and made me retrace some of our practices with the view to considering if any of our services are working harder to make up for some of the others…………….

……….when was the last time you checked on your coffee ???

From 10 to 100 hospitals in one short email !

Read & Recover
Sending books to kids hospitals !

Tonight at about 8pm I was putting my son to bed and had read him the final of his 5 books for the night. As he was just drifting off, the nagging, red flashing light on my Blackberry was pounding my periphery.  Although I get hundreds of emails a day, I still have this irresistible urge to check my emails as they come in (Note to self; must address that urge one day soon).

I had sent Brad Sugars from ActionCOACH an update email to let him know that the ‘Read & Recover’ logo was ready along with some other details about the project’s status.  The email was sent at 5pm Sydney time.  Brad was in working in Portugal and sent a reply email at 8pm Sydney time. It was a short and to the point email from Brad (as only Brad can do).  He had decided that he would up his ante and suggested that we expand the project from donating to 10 hospitals to 100 hospitals.  Well, I was glad I had finished reading books to my son by then as I was speechless and nearly fell off the bed. There was going to be no arguments from me or our team here. 

Once I had digested the information, I let the team know of the pledge and amongst the emotions, we all agreed that we were up for the challenge of making this happen. Making this happen means putting more smiles on more sick kids faces – THAT is our motivation.

So, as the night closes on another busy day of helping my fabulous team run www.whitenow.com.au and our other associated businesses, I plan to put my head on my pillow peacefully, knowing that there are amazing people out there who do amazing things for other amazing people.

Working for Dough !

Isn’t it funny how your perception of a business can change ?

When we moved in to our new home two years ago,  the process of unpacking the multitude of boxes made the hunger pains start however the fridge had not been plugged in and the food boxes contained nothing that appealed to the appetite !  Fortunately we had relocated to the Inner West and two minute’s walk from our place is a run of shops.

I grabbed my wallet and my then 18 month old and I walked (he got carried) up to our very local shops.  Within quite literally ten metres of each other there are two bakeries.  I strolled in to the slightly closer one and was met by 3 smiling faces and a big “can I help you ?”.  We were off to a great start !  The lady serving me was very helpful whilst the other two ladies were very taken with my little boy.  They clucked and cooed and after I spent my $20 or thereabouts and was about to leave they gave my little boy a cookie and said, “see you soon”.

Needless to say we started going back on an almost daily basis and would easily spend on average $30 a week, which I would suggest should have made us a “regular customer”.

The service remained reasonably consistent for about 12 months and we could not have been happier – buying bread became a bit of an outing/event and my son was always the first one at the door, champing at the bit to buy bread (and maybe score a free cookie……………he was only two and a half afterall !!!).

Both my wife and I enjoy a nice chunky sandwich and so we have always bought our bread UNsliced – the added benefit being the bread seems to remain fresher for longer.  Upon arriving at the bakery every second day, if not every day we would ask if they had an UNcut loaf or if there was anything fresh out of the oven ?  (There is NOTHING better than warm/fresh bread with a chunk of butter on it).

Now,  for the purpose of this post I am going to ignore the fact that we had to request an uncut loaf each and every time, which in itself is frustrating.  What we both began to notice was that we were gradually being treated with more and more disdain until eventually we were almost ignored and then one day the owner’s wife came out and informed my wife that the cut loaves were fresh each morning and why couldn’t we just take one of those ?  Shocked, my wife left the bakery without purchasing anything and she came home to tell me the story.

Interestingly enough and against my usual mode of doing things; rather than speak directly to the owner or his wife about loyalty and customer service, we “voted with our feet” and now we buy all of our bread from either the bakery two doors up OR we go to the less expensive and much friendlier again bakery that is a car trip away !!!

All of this got me to thinking………………

All of the hard work that these people did at first to gain our repeat business was undone over a period of time by making us FEEL like we were being difficult !  And then, it came to a head when they then confirmed our feelings by confronting us.  Would it not have been much easier to just keep a loaf aside for us each day ?  Worst case scenario is that someone else would have bought it later on.  As os often happens with this sort of experience, I shared it with local friends and family and they too have stopped using the bakery as my experience was echoed (if not to the same degree) by them.  Overnight, their business is potentially $2000-$3000 a year less profitable due to the loss of “our” business.

Will this send them broke ?  I sincerely hope not !  It is a family owned business and they have a small family to feed.

Someone once said to me “there is plenty of dough in dough” !!!  Unfortunately, no matter how much money there is in a product/service without CUSTOMER SERVICE it can be worthless…..

The Read & Recover Initiative gets GREAT ideas from Facebook mates!


1600 books to 100 Hospitals

The Read & Recover intiative, which is a joint venture between White Now and Brad Sugars from ActionCOACH (you can read about this amazing gift in previous posts) took its next  step – finding which kids hospitals people thought the 150 books should go to.

If there is one thing I have learnt in my years of running businesses, it is to always ask others for their input and ideas – whether it be your team members, clients, potential clients or simply people that want to add value to what you do.  With this in mind, our team put a post on the Wiz Whitenow Facebook site “Wiz WhiteNow” (http://www.facebook.com/wizwhitenow).   This is what the post said “Wiz WhiteNow is needing your help to recommend hospitals to us! We are sending 150 kids books to 10 NSW hospitals with kids wards. This is a gift we are giving jointly with the amazing support of Brad Sugars from ActionCOACH. The generosity of this entrepeneur is inspiring & the time and efforts of the White Now team are appreciated. Would you like to suggest a hospital that would appreciate the gift ?”

The response was amazing and we qiuckly gathered up the names of the first 10 hospitals named.  It shows that people can be so passionate about things that are close to their heart !  White Now and Brad Sugars would like to say a huge THANK YOU to the following people and their recommendations !

Hospital Suggested By
The Sydney Adventist Hospital Andrew Bassett-Smith                                    
Westmead Children’s Si Harris & Susan Churchill & Denise Ferguson
Gosford Hospital David Younie
Nepean Hospital Leah Gibbs, Emma Huszar, Tanya Westcott Gorton
John Hunter Hospital Leah Gibbs/Amy Waight
Sydney Kids Hospital Randwick Kathy Carnemolla, Damien Greig                                    
Royal Darwin Hospital Marianne O’Farrell
Coffs Harbour Hospital Sue Patterson
St George Hospital Garry Weston
Sutherland Children’s Ward Sue Jago

Our next step was to source the books – we searched high and low.  We wanted to look for books that were a mix of Australian authors and popular well known kids stories.  We went to many book shops, online stores, auction sites – you name it, we researched it.  The final decision was made yesterday and the books were bought.   The most amazing range that suited our needs were actually at an Australia Post shop – yep, it’s true.  To those who recommended the hospitals and to all of our friends and colleagues who are supporting us in this venture, thank you so much !  People are the true essence of life !

These are the authors and titles in case you are interested;

Author Title Title
Pamela Allen Mr McGee and the Big Bag of Bread Waddle Giggle Gargle
  Herbert and Harry The Pear in the Pear Tree
Graeme Base The Eleventh Hour The Worst Band in the Universe
  Jungle Dreams The Waterhole
Dr Seuss The Cat in the Hat Fox in Socks
  Green Eggs and Ham  
Beatrix Potter The Tale of Peter Rabbit The Story of Miss Moppet
  The Talk of Jemima Puddleduck The Story of a Fierce Bad Rabbit
Disney Cars – A friendly Crew Toy Story 2 – Toys to the Rescue
  Monster Inc – Monsters  Everywhere Little Mermaid – A Different Life
  Finding Nemo – Adventure in the Ocean Cinderella – The Magic of Dreams
  Sleeping Beauty – A Secret Princess Snow White – A Princess Hiding
Mem Fox Possum Magic Shoes from Grandpa
  Sail Away Hattie and the Fox
Roger Hargreaves Mr Strong Mr Messy
  Mr Noisy Mr Funny

All Wired Up To Say Thank You

I spent the night in a Children’s Sleep Disorder Clinic with my 3 year old wired up to dozens of wires.  What an amazing place.  In life you continually experience amazing things and amazing people.  Last night was another example.  From the minute we walked in the door at 6pm, the nursing staff treated my child like he was the most special child in the world.  The truth is that he was one of three there that evening and they are open 5 nights a week and are full each night, so this is simply routine for them.  At about 6.30pm in walks Emily.  Emily was wearing a yellow shirt and not a nurses uniform so of course I had to ask the question, ‘what is your job here’.  Emily told me that she was just a volunteer who came to the hospital 5 nights a week after work for 2 hours to help settle the children.  Emily’s main job was as a preschool teacher.  She wanted to give some of her skills back to those in need and chose the hospital to do so.  She read to my child,  played with him and generally made him feel comfortable.  Let me just put this into perspective. Emily is 22 years old and works in a paid job (at not a huge salary) from 7am until 3.30pm.  She then takes a couple of hours off and come back to non-paid work simple to give to others.  I was blown away at this generosity and especially from a 22 year old who could be spending time with her friends.  This morning, we spent time making a special card to send to the staff and a special card to Emily.  We slipped into Emily’s card a small, department store voucher as a thank you.

We will more than likely never see Emily again but she has added to the smile on my child’s face.  We hope that her special card shows that her efforts are beyond the call of duty and much appreciated.   There is nothing more important than thanking someone for doing something that they did not have to do.

Free TOEFL Sample Essays. Want to see actual essays submitted by other people just like you who are studying for the TOEFL? TestMagic offers a selection of admission essays In 2010, Dr. C Moorer published his ground breaking work, From Failure to Promise: An Uncommon Path to Professoriate. An inspirational autobiography in